A Deer Hunt received a £ 10,000 grant and a £ 50,000 loan from taxpayer-backed programs that are helping struggling businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic.
The Devon and Somerset Staghounds are considered one of the many hunts that obtained grants or took out loans through government programs during the Covid-19 crisis.
During the lockdown, the hunts were unable to conduct their usual fundraising activities such as point-to-point horse racing, which covers expenses such as kennels and staff salaries.
The Devon and Somerset pack – who ride on horseback to hunt and shoot deer – asked their local district council earlier this year for £ 10,000 in public money, which was awarded to them, a revealed a hunting report.
The Hunt, who already had £ 40,000 in bank accounts, does not have to repay the grant.
Local authorities administer emergency grants for businesses in England, through the small business grant fund and the discretionary grant fund, set up to try to keep traders afloat as economic activity plummeted.
The Devon and Somerset Staghounds also used the government bounce back loan program borrow £ 50,000.
The program is aimed at businesses that are losing revenue due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The borrower does not have to make a repayment during the first 12 months, during which the loan is interest free.
The pack said its income from April to June was down 34% from the same period last year, but part of its lost income was replaced by the £ 10,000 grant from the council of Somerset West and Taunton district.
The Masters Report states: “The Hunt took advantage of a government backed £ 50,000 unsecured Bounce Back loan which is free money for 12 months. This money will be repaid before the end of the 12 month interest-free period.
“The money will serve as an overdraft facility if it becomes necessary over the next year. Excluding this loan, the Hunt has £ 30,000 in the bank plus an additional £ 10,000 in the Hunt Club account. “
The League Against Cruel Sports says it understands that hunting groups have encouraged the packs to seek government support to recoup revenue lost during the pandemic, and that they have been widely accepted.
“Most hunters are businesses or commercial organizations that make a profit,” spokeswoman Emma Judd said.
Somerset Wildlife Crime, a group that monitors and reports hunting, illegal badger persecution, trapping, trapping and poaching on Exmoor, told its supporters: “I bet you are all delighted to know that your tax d housing supports deer hunts.
Although the Hunting Act of 2004 banned the hunting of wild mammals with dogs, it allows hunters to use up to two dogs to hunt wild animals for “observation and study” purposes.
Devon and Somerset use this legal exemption to hunt deer through Exmoor and the Quantock Hills, aided by supporters in vehicles, before shooting them, insisting it’s not about hunting illegally for sport.
The group, which typically meets three times a week in season, says it has the support of farmers and landowners in managing the large herd of deer in Exmoor.
Dozens of social media users were outraged by the grant and the loan.
One Facebook user commented, “Money should go into utilities – never properly. “
Others argued that residents should withhold part of their council tax.
One said: “Outrageous when so many people need help right now. “
The independent asked the Devon and Somerset Staghounds to comment on the grant and the loan, and asked the Countryside Alliance to clarify how many hunts in the UK have received coronavirus support loans.
The independent also asked Somerset West and Taunton District Council on what basis the £ 10,000 grant was made. None of the three groups had responded before the publication.